Columns » Front Porch

"Hillbilly hussy"

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Pity the poor promotions department at Hudson Belk.

Consider all the free newspaper ink that Nordstrom and Saks have been getting lately, thanks to recent "business stories" in the media about Durham's Southpoint and Raleigh's Triangle Town Center. Surely, folks at the frumpier end of the region's retail scale must be scrambling to think of new ways to compete.

Case in point: the Belk's ad that appeared in the News & Observer on Mother's Day. The ad for a MAC makeup appointment, featuring a well-endowed woman in teeny, tiny short-shorts was a definite departure from the store's traditional image.

Unfortunately, it didn't go over too well with some loyal customers. Two days after the ad appeared, all hell broke loose in the Letters to the Editor section.

Nancy Brockhoff of Wake Forest lambasted Belk's for launching what she called, "a full-page assault on my sense of decency." She worried that after looking at the image of "what I could only call a 'hillbilly hussy'" her kids would react with, "Wow, my mom doesn't look like that."

Laverne Domach of Newport was a bit less vituperative. She wrote that the ad "contradicts your own representation as being a 'teaching tool' for young students."

Well, nobody said mall wars were pretty.

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